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Number four truly will be missed, even by a Vikings fan

By web

Section: Sports

March 7, 2008

Brett Favre’s retirement is finally upon us. I personally find this announcement very hard to believe, after watching his gun slinging ways since my days in elementary school. As a Minnesota Vikings fan, it was impossible not to love to hate the irresistible Favre, a true gamer. The NFL will finally say goodbye to the legend that brought a championship back to Green Bay, defined the game for nearly a decade, and shovel passed his way into the record books.

Next season, for the first time since the first Bush administration, the starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers will not be Brett Favre. His departure marks perhaps a significant turning point in the face of the NFL. With Favre’s retirement, all of the greats that our generation grew up with are gone. Think of the largely single team franchise players of yesteryear that include Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Troy Aikman, John Elway, Jerry Rice, Jim Kelly, and Steve Young. As the league’s elder statesman, Favre’s exit marks the end of the 90’s era of football we all grew up on.

Favre, literally, is made for ESPN Classic. Games that he was a part of remain quite memorable to this day, whether it was the immortal performance he had on Monday Night Football following the death of his father, the Super Bowl victory in Louisiana, the unbelievable shoulder pads catch from Favre to Freeman against the Vikings, or the recent overtime heroics against the Bears. Perhaps no other player of our era was able to take control of a game in the way that Favre did more often than not. Lambeau field without Brett Favre as the front and center focal point seems quite alien, doesn’t it?

Another question that arises is who is the NFL’s elder statesman now that Favre has left? (Old, journeymen kickers do not count either.) Defensive giants Junior Seau and Michael Strahan are the first names to come to mind, but they don’t have the stature of number four. It may be quite a while before we have a name as entrenched in the game for so long as the Packers’ elite quarterback. Imagine Tom Brady as the Patriot’s starting quarterback in 2017, or Peyton Manning staying in Indianapolis as an effective starter until about 2015. That’s the kind of consistency that these two would have to have to even approach Favre’s record in Green Bay.

All I know is, when my Vikings suit up to face the hated Packers next season, it will be a very different picture. Favre’s retirement means my hatred of the Pack can’t be centered on one player, but now rather a more anonymous, generic uniform. As much as I am happy to see him go so that my team won’t have to face him twice a season, and to no longer help give the rival Packers even a fighting chance of repeating as Super Bowl champions, seeing Favre leave is difficult.

Red Sox fans: think of the day when hated Yankee legend Derek Jeter retires, or for Celtics fans when Laker Magic Johnson retired. Perhaps even more so than Jeter or Magic, Favre remains larger than life, possessed both class and talent and represented the team through the good and the bad. Except that with Favre, his absence is even more accentuated, since he has had far fewer faces to love and hate playing behind him. There will be no more loving to hate that one guy who was always there to beat my team year after year through thick and thin. I’ll have to start hating some new young quarterback with a strange number. Number four will truly be missed.

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